Hermosa Tours – Durango to Moab Day 4

Back in Spring of 2012, my buddy Todd and I decided to plan a trip to mountain bike from Durango, Colorado to Moab, Utah. The trip would take 6 days, over 220 miles and 24,000 ft of climbing.

We hired the services of Hermosa Tours to ferry our gear from camp to camp and made our way on the journey.

Day 4 turned out to be the most brutal day of the ride. The first 20ish miles was a walk in the park, being mostly downhill and then an 8 mile road ride through Paradox Valley.

Paradox Valley was pretty interesting. The Dolores river runs south to north through the canyon, which is highly irregular and hence the name ‘Paradox Valley’. This part of the ride was quite scenic, with views of the canyon walls and the Dolores river.

It was also pretty interesting as this was a big mining area for Uranium and Vanadium. There are abandoned mine shafts scattered all throughout the Valley.

Additionally the Hanging Flume that runs the length of the canyon is an amazing feat of human dedication. Construction started on that in the 1880’s. I just can’t imagine how men of that time built the flume with hand tools, hanging off the cliffside while hand drilling into the cliff face. Incredible!

We made a stop where we crossed the Dolores and attempted to filter some water to complete our ride for the day. The Dolores is a very dirty, silty river with an extreme amount of sediment in the water. I was only able to pump 1 water bottle worth of water before our water filter seized up.

This unfortunately meant that we did not get to have full water going into the most brutal and hot portion of the ride for the day.

From the Dolores river we climbed about 3500 feet over 15 miles. It was a slow, hot, brutal grind up the mountain. It wasn’t long before we noticed we were already running low on water and still had a long way to go. With an average speed of about 3.5mph, it was going to be a tough finish.

About 5 miles into our climb, we’re way far away from anything and I happen to look down and see VERY FRESH mountain lion tracks. What’s more, as I started looking around there are tracks ALL OVER the place. This area is obviously a mountain lion’s home territory and we’re riding right through it.

I think it’d be pretty cool to see a mountain lion, but visions of Red Dead Redemption cougar attacks start going through my mind. Meanwhile, Todd had tied a bandanna to the top of his helmet to protect his neck from the sun. While riding, it would flap in the wind and I commented how it looked like the perfect cat toy. Todd promptly removed the bandanna!

The final 15 miles of the day were probably the most taxing 15 miles I’ve ever rode on my bike. It took us nearly 4.5 hours to do the climb and we were pretty spent.

We finally climbed all the way up into the forest areas. Clouds also rolled in and now we started getting some rain mixed with some hail. Fortunately the real fury of the oncoming storm waited until we made it to camp before hitting us.

Camp was at Buckeye Reservoir on the Colorado/Utah border. It was a beautiful campground and a welcome rest stop.

I attempted to wash off in the reservoir but the water was shallow and muddy. I would sink to my calves when trying to venture out into the knee deep water. That and the water was pretty silty and there wasn’t really any clean/clear water to be had.

After an excellent dinner of sausage, rice and beans, it was off to bed where I was out like a light from the day’s efforts.

Hermosa Tours – http://www.hermosatours.net/
Web Album – https://picasaweb.google.com/110942279729471311996/DurangoToMoab2012

Day 1 Video – http://youtu.be/iaHy_tmF-io
Day 2 Video – http://youtu.be/EMAStys6V9Y
Day 3 Video – http://youtu.be/eV_gOR3uABw
Day 4 Video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fm4Rwb9o2_k

About TC

Long time mountain biker, recent mountain bike racer. Borderline unhealthy obsession with mountain biking, constantly drawn to hit the dirt and share my experiences.

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